Continuation of “Some Possible Teaching Methods and Lessons” Three more Methods

Read those previous two entries for context

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In one of my previous entries, I posted the part of my final education paper that talked about my goal and objectives for American education.  Now these are three more methods I devised for meeting some of those objectives.

In addition to the implementation of this project, students will participate in a two to three week long unit focusing on the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  While the project discussed in the previous paragraph seeks to develop the student’s awareness and recognition of the underlying commonality and continuity between the causes of each human conflict that they present on, the primary purpose of this unit will be to demonstrate what it truly takes to not only transcend these superficial differences that are the driving force behind each of these conflicts but to emphasize the enormously positive and amazing effect that this transcendence can have on society.  This unit will begin with a viewing of King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered in 1963 in Washington D.C.  Without even paying any mind to the historical context and background of the speech, the teacher will ask the students what qualities they recognize in the man who delivered this speech as well as query the students on what they perceive as the overlying message and theme promulgated by King.  Intertwined in this discussion will be the basic question of how the speech made the student’s feel.  All this discussion will take place in the first one or two days of this unit.  As homework, after this discussion has been had, students will be asked to do a reflective journal entry on the content of the “I Have a Dream Speech” and try to draw connections between King’s message and their projects already completed in the previous unit.  Journal entries will be shared and discussed in the next class.  The rest of the unit will focus on Martin Luther King Jr’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and the effect he and other key members of the Movement had on the fabric of American society.  From the study of this unit, students will recognize that although human conflict and suffering arises from the emphasis of the superficial differences among us, the ability to correct past wrongs, transcend these differences, and make society better exists, and has been demonstrated throughout human history.  As a conclusion to this unit, students will perform another group project.  The teacher will develop an extensive list of historical and contemporary topics that demonstrate this ability.  Students will also be permitted to do preliminary research and choose their own topic for the assignment if they prefer.  This project will be graded on the same scale as the previously discussed one.  Also, just as with the last project, a student-led roundtable discussion and debate will be held about the presentation they just heard.  The teacher will guide the debate with pointed questions about how the topic of the presentation demonstrated the ability to transcend superficial differences and make society better as a result.

Dean Koontz, prolific author and New York Times bestseller, has written a book entitled Strange Highways, a collection of short stories which, through a maze of storytelling that can only be described as breathtaking, takes the reader on a journey through the strange highways of human experience.  Indeed, these stories do address the fundamental nature of the human being and therefore connect to that objective.  Students will read each story outside of class and roundtable discussion will be held each week on two of the stories.  The teacher will develop and distribute guiding questions for each discussion that will challenge students to identify the fundamental message or messages of each story in regards to the human experience.  The teacher will also challenge students to relate the message or messages of each story to their own thoughts and experiences regarding human nature as well as the key issues and obstacles facing human civilization today.  These questions will be answered in self-reflection log entries before being shared in discussion.  After all the readings and discussions have concluded students will write one last journal entry about what they learned from this unit and how it fits into their everyday lives as well as the underlying purpose behind it.  These entries will be shared and discussed in class.

An educational system that aims to develop in its students an exceptional self-awareness must identify the individual passions and convictions in each and seek to make them realize how cultural, political, familial, and other influences may have shaped those passions.  Students will be asked to write a series of reflective log entries detailing their most basic and some more complex desires for their lives.  Guiding questions will be provided by the teacher such as “What do you want to do with your life?”  “What do you hold most dear in your life?” Is there any idea, any philosophy, any problem in society that especially draws a passionate desire in you?”  These entries will then be shared in a series of student-led roundtable discussions and debates.  During these discussions, it will be the teacher’s job to provoke a thought process that makes the student’s question how powerful influences have shaped their answers to the questions.  In addition it will be his or her job to provoke discussion on whether the student’s goals, passions, and dreams fit into the larger framework of creating a mutually supportive society.

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